The Influence of Christ in the Ancient World

The Influence of Christ in the Ancient World

The Influence of Christ in the Ancient World

The Influence of Christ in the Ancient World

Excerpt

The proper task and the nature of history men have long debated. In the opening chapters of Thucydides the matter is briefly discussed, with oblique but severe criticism of the greatest historian the world had yet seen. The various books of the great work of Polybius are full of digressions upon the ideal of the historian, and, alas! on the declensions from it that later Greek writers displayed. A few words from the prelude to his first book may form as good an introduction to the task before ourselves as any other. If his predecessors, he begins, had omitted the praise of history, as a discipline for life, he might well undertake the eulogy; but they had been guilty of no such neglect. The very element of unexpectedness--of paradox (to use his own word)--in the events he has to narrate should be enough to incite old and young to read. "Can anyone be so worthless and indolent as not to wish to know by what means and under what polity the Romans in less than fifty-three years have succeeded in subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world to their sole government--a thing unique in history?"

So writes Polybius in his first chapter, and he can never get away from his central view that there is reason in history. "The progress of the Romans was . . .

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